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The Pilgrim City


Worldwide Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing

From the Publisher:

Inventing Socrates is a book about the consequences of knowledge and the coming of age. It is written in knowledge’s Western setting, making allegorical as well as literal use of the event known as the ‘birth of philosophy’ – an event that began in ancient Greece in the 6th-century B.C., when a handful of thinkers first looked at the natural world through the critical eyes of fledgling science.

Very little of concrete fact is known about this first philosophy and its protagonists. Only scant fragments of their writings have survived; and these are nearly always poetical and esoteric, some no more than a single line. They are freighted with meanings that might take one in two different directions at once; and this ambidexterity between ancient and modern has always been their beguiling feature. Altogether these thinkers are known as the Presocratics, because they pioneered the rational methods that Socrates would take to the question of the good life. If Socrates stands today as an icon of Western self-esteem, these pioneers are said to show the emergence of that poise from the fug of myth and religion. Apparently they prove the evolution of Western intelligence and the value of living today – in the secular maturity of its latest, greatest hour. But what if their continuing readability and tactility were actually to become the demonstration against that?

This is not just, then, a book about the foundations of Western thought. It is a book about all that we invest in the ideas of ancient and modern. Left to right is the Western way of learning and growing, but, as Miles Hollingworth shows, the truths of the human condition are subterranean corridors running psychologically and eternally.

Recommendation by Professor Nicholas J. Rengger:

This book is one of the most original and penetrating interpretations of Augustine’s political thought for years. Grounded in a profound knowledge of the texts, and written with exemplary care and attention to detail, this will be an important resource for all those interested in Augustine, in Christian thought and the evolving intellectual history of the early middle ages.


‘Miles Hollingworth’s The Pilgrim City is a joy to read. His mastery and comfort with the body of Augustine’s work coupled with judicious and illuminating quotes of the primary sources makes Augustine’s political theology come alive to both new and seasoned readers. Hollingworth focuses on the impact Augustine’s thought has had on Western political theory and evaluates the authenticity of the various political theories that claim the Augustinian mantle. He does so by drawing on writers throughout history that parallel or serve as foils to Augustine’s ideas including Dostoyevsky, Rousseau, Luther, Marx, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and others. This is a refreshing approach to Augustinian studies… The Pilgrim City is a strong and unique contribution to Augustinian political theology. It can be used in graduate and upper level undergraduate courses on political theology, history (medieval through early modern), and political science.’ — Mark J. Allman, Horizons: The Journal of the College Theological Society September 2012; vol. 39 (issue 2), 328-9.

‘This book will be of great value to all who have come to rely upon Augustine for insights into political thought and who still ponder the responsibility of Christians in civil society.’ — Samuel K. Roberts, Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology January 2012; vol. 66 (no. 1), 100-1.

‘The Pilgrim City is written in an assured and authoritative style and deserves wide attention for its insights and the depth of its scholarship.’ — Edward Dowler, Political Theology June 2012; vol. 13 (no. 3), 371-3.

‘Hollingworth contends that the failure of Augustine to leave behind a work of political theory has exposed the saint to serious misunderstanding… The book is well written, though occasionally obscure, and well researched.’ — Choice

‘In a period of flourishing interest in Augustine’s political thought, Miles Hollingworth’s Pilgrim City is a welcome contribution… wide ranging, impressively researched and provocatively presented… Pilgrim City is full of insight and verve…’ — Gregory W. Lee, Theology July 2011; 114 (4), 292-3.

‘Augustine is a thinker of such significance and complexity that he continues to inspire new books, and this one is worth reading for its engagement with aspects of his thought that have been misunderstood; a dose of realism can be a wonderful antidote to misplaced idealism.’ — John Moorhouse, Journal of Religious History September 2012; vol. 36 (no. 3), 443-444.

‘This is a masterful study that is packed with scholarship and an easy style.’ — Fr Ashley Beck, Pastoral Review November 2013; vol. 9 (6), 92-3.

‘Hollingworth argues that Augustine’s journey of conversion deeply influenced his understanding of politics. In fact, Augustine came to understand his conversion as a political decision: Where is his citizenship? Whom does he love? He needed to relinquish his own self-love and self-will in order to experience the joy and freedom of obedience to
the God who loved him. He found something in this life of loving God that the Earthly City could not supply.
There can be no doubt that Hollingworth admires Augustine and believes him to be saying something very valuable about where the Christian ought to place her hopes. I recommend this book for students of Augustine, political theology or political philosophy. Defenders of Luther, the other reformers, or Elshtain will take issue with Hollingworth’s criticisms, but, in the main, Hollingworth is persuasive in making his case that Augustine stands against the Western political tradition in concluding that politics are inherently irredeemable, and such a counter-intuitive idea is worthy of some reflection.’ — Glenn M. Harden, Reviews in Religion & Theology January 2014; vol. 21 (1), 51-3.